It was difficult to decide who should be the Chicago Blackhawks’ MVP for the semifinals. A lot of players were good candidates: Bryan Bickell, Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook, the guys on the fourth line. But when it came down to who really stood out, there was one person who went from a low point to help the team bounce back and win three games in a row. That person is the captain, Jonathan Toews.
Toews didn’t have much of an impact in the quarterfinals, but he came alive against the Detroit Red Wings. He’d been without a goal heading into the semifinals, but not for lack of trying. When he did finally score a goal in Game Five, he did it courtesy of the puck bouncing off the facemask of Jimmy Howard and into the net.
Game Five was a turnaround for not only Toews but also the team. They were down three games and faced elimination, and their play had been sloppy and uncharacteristic of them. Even Toews lost his cool, earning three consecutive penalties and a little talk in the box from Seabrook in Game Four. But his goal and better attitude helped the Blackhawks fight back and win their first of three straight games.
The best story of Toews’ leadership comes from the last game in the series. In the intermission before overtime, the team was tied with the Red Wings after Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal had been waived off. To rally his players, Toews stood up and said “Let’s win this 3-1”, counting the waived goal. The team obeyed their captain’s orders, with Seabrook scoring three minutes into overtime.
Toews was the 2010 Conn Smythe winner. While he might not win it again if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, he’ll certainly show that he’s earned the C on his chest in leading the team to the ultimate prize.